Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Currently Creative - July 30

It's time for another linkup from Kellie Winnell's blog!

The main thing I've been working on this week has been a Kobo cover for M.  I'm using the same yarn and same basic pattern as for the one I made for myself last year, but with a larger hook and the original ribbed cuff from the pattern instead of the flap I did for mine. The ribbing is a challenge, and I had to rip it out once completely, but although it's not perfect this time, I'm okay-ish with it. I still plan to do some glasses cases for a couple of friends for Christmas presents this year.

In poppy-making news, I tried my own pattern with bobbles!

Week 30 at Chez Stutters (and Catterday)

Unusually, I was ready to print out my my Project Life photos for the previous *on Monday*, which is my general goal, but rarely ever met.  But it's indicative of this week that my problem wasn't sorting *through* photos, but picking up photos from random places on the internet (well, not actually random: I knew I wanted things about La Course and the Commonwealth Games and Lior) to supplement not many photos at all.

It was a mostly non-eventful week in Chez-Stutters-land.  Work (for me) sucked, which meant a lot of nights of coming home, whinging, crocheting poppies and baby blankets, patting the cats and watching the Tour de France.

On Friday night we went from my work out for dinner and then to a Lior concert.  The support act was Domini Forster, who was incredibly awesome.  Not that Lior wasn't, because he was.  His very first song I thought would be brilliant for use in worship, and that was well before he sang Avinu Malekeinu and told us about the recording of "Compassion" with Nigel Westlake.

Photo not taken by me: The Cube staff with Lior, Domini Forster, and Phoebe who supports Domini.

The rest of the weekend was very blah.  Chores, cleaning, Tour-watching, laying around watching the cats, etc. 

It was *so* blah that I forgot to write my Catterday post.

So here you go, two for the price of one.

It's another edition of who's the king of the castle.  The boys have gotten more used to the cat tree/cat gym in the last couple weeks, to the point that there are now spirited arguments as to who gets to sleep up the top.  The top, by the way, is the only decent part of it: none of the rest seems to count at all.

I couldn't believe how beautifully they posed for this photo!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday poppy pattern review - Remembrance Poppy

There's a poppy counter on the left-hand sidebar now.  As I write this post, I'm working on my 19th poppy - almost 20% to my goal!  I'd love to extend it (150, perhaps?) but at the same time, I've got a ripple blanket and multiple Christmas presents to finish as well.  Perhaps it should be 100 in time for the November 11 event, and another 100 before April 25 next year...

This week's pattern review is the Remembrance Poppy pattern.  (Link is to pinterest, clicking on the pin will get you to the .pdf) 

This is probably the pattern closest to the "official" distributed patterns that I've tried so far, but it's a fiddly two piece pattern in that it gives you the red part and tells you to just randomly add a button or etc. A crocheted center is just plain fiddly and OMG. 

So, minus points for that.

On the other hand, the shape of the resulting poppy is quite pretty.  There's some body to it, and as long as you don't muck up the centre trying to be interesting (see poppy #1) it looks really nice.  

Plus points there.

Honestly, it's only the two-part fiddliness that means this probably won't be a go-to pattern over the next few weeks.  I like to be able to sit down in the evening, pick up my black yarn, join my red yarn, and bang, done.  One poppy.  This just has too many stages.  (On the other hand, if I manage to raid my mother's button jar for some black buttons, I might change my tune.)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Currently creative - 23 July

It's Currently Creative linkup time again! 

Last week I finally began to work on poppies.  I've been working on the Poppy Project at work since we first found about it.  But this is the first time I've actually started working on my own contribution to the project.  

I've also been working on the Project life blog posts, and consequently on my PL layouts. Like my HtTyD2 cards :-). During the first week of the school holidays we went to see it, and then the GF found the dioramas at - would you believe - McDonald's. But I had a great time turning them into PL cards: almost as much fun as I had watching the movie.

Monday night was the first day in more than a week that I didn't work on poppies: I got back into working on writing!  I've begun to develop a new idea for a middle grades novel, have opened a new file on Scrivener for the research on it (the amount of information available via the Australian National Archives is kind of amazing), and although my 'voice' just isn't right yet (far too sophisticated), I've even written some scraps that - because of their over-sophistication, just won't be usable.

Of course, I still have some other writing projects I should be working on. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Project Life - designing layouts

So, you all enjoyed my two part look at Week 26?

This week I started looking at Week 28, and immediately realised that it had some interesting aspects to the very beginning stages: choosing photos and designing layouts.

For the second half of Week 27, I used Design D.  That suited my photos for the week, and it provides a little bit of variety to the layouts.  But it does make the following week ... interesting... in terms of design.

The back of my RHS for Week 27 - which becomes the LHS (Title side) for Week 28
Obviously, this means that the LHS for Week 28 has to be at least half portrait photos (or landscape photos in 3x4).

So I went off to Picasa to take a look at what was in my PL folder for week 28.

Seven landscape shots and one portrait.  Huh.

This led me back to my full week 28 folder, re-evaluating the photos from scratch.  I try to do my PL somewhat chronologically (ie left side, then right; week, then weekend), although it doesn't always work.  I used A Beautiful Mess (the app) to combine landscape photos into 4x6 portrait collages. 

And in a couple days time, I'll show you how it turned out:-)

Week 29 (I know) at Chez Stutters

So, I muddled up the week numbers again.

This week just past is week 29, no matter what I said last week.

It was the week that Term Three commenced for the GF. The second week of the Tour de France, which means I stay up watching Tour as long as I can every night.  The week I began making poppies.

The umbrella tree appeared; a friend of Shell's opened her Curiousity Shop, we bought me a new Pandora charm, and we finished watching season five of Parks and Recreation.

On Sunday we went on an adventure: We went to Myrtleford in order to have lunch at the Butter Factory, only to discover that they no longer do lunches.  So we went to Cafe Fez, about which I have heard mixed reports (generally at the extremes) but which we loved.  Then off to Gapsted Wines, which was the other reason for our visit to Myrtleford.  We tasted a few, bought five, and then headed back home to the kittyboys.

Oh, and it was also the week when the leaking tap began to leak ridiculously, and we spent the week trying to organise a plumber.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

It's Catterday again! - July 19

Cats like sunlight - this is not news. This also means they like windows. And windowsills. 

The boys are no exception. 

The boys sunning themselves on the bookshelf-top we cleared for them. 

The view from outside on a different day, when they'd both worked their way through the blinds in our bedroom.  Which they do most mornings. 

And the next two are both of Bard, to make up for all those pictures of Bion when Bard was still shy. 

They currently seem to fight over who gets this spot. On Thursday night, Bard won. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday poppies

This is something else I'd like to make a regular feature on the blog: Friday poppy posts.  Fridays will be the days when we have informal poppy-making sessions at the library, as of *next* week.

Also as of next week, I'll start reviewing the various poppy patterns I've been trying out.  As you can see by the title photo, I've been trying various patterns of poppies (yesterday I completely gave up on two).  I won't review a pattern here until I've tried it at least twice, but that already gives me two patterns that I can review.  (I've begun to take photos of the finished poppies with their patterns so that I can remember which patterns they belong to.)

So, for this week, links to patterns and the numbers completed so far.

Remembrance Poppy - 3

Adapted from Poppy Flower Headband - 1

Adapted from ANZAC Poppy Choker - 1, possibly my favourite pattern

Poppy Pattern - 3, was my favourite pattern until I tried the above, still love it.

Adapted from Pretty Poppy Earrings - 1

How to crochet a poppy - 1

A random ten-petal flower that I can't remember where the pattern came from - 1

I will say, any pattern where I can do the whole thing at once, in rounds, is preferable to ones where you do two separate pieces and have to sew them together later.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

How I Project Life - weekly layouts, part 2

When I left off, I'd completed my basic layout of cards, photos and ephemera. With the exception of the Weekly Review card I'd prepared earlier, I didn't have any journaling done. So, the next steps are embellishment and journaling. 

I include stamping among embellishment, and I'm beginning to do more of it. I absolutely love the stamps I've bought from Kellie Winnell, and I now include her "Week" stamp on every title card. 

I also use stickers (you can just about see some in the background in the photo above)' and I love the look of wood and cork veneers.  It's hard see in the photo below, but there's a cork arrow, and a coffee-cup cutout from washi paper in on the two 3x4 cards.  (I really need to improve on my photography skills.) 

Each week gets the week number (although I got rather mixed up along the way: now I use Epoch Converter to check the week counts just to confirm) and the dates, Monday through Sunday, on the title card. I mostly use stamps for this, for consistency and because I don't so much like my handwriting (does anyone?) I used Kikki.K rubber stamps until I got the Kaisercraft clear stamps, which I use just because they're quicker.  And I like them. 

Anyway, after stamping comes journaling. 

You can see stickers in a couple of places above,  along with the journaling on four cards.

One of the features of the Becky Higgins PL cards is the bi-fold cards. I used one in the week 26 layout to provide an extra three sides for journaling. 

And after journaling comes "staring at the layout to decide whether I'm really done or whether something is missing". Which it usually is. 

And the answer is usually "washi tape"

I love washi tape. I use it as labels, as highlight, as decoration. 

I realise that these pictures are a little like "spot the difference".

On the Yellow Sub/week 26 layout, I ended up using matching washi in red and yellow to bring the Ember Card in to the rest of the design, and to do the same to the random picture of socks. I also embellished with button stickers (from Daiso) as well as the surface crochet  and use of matching yarn on another card. 

So that's my Week 26 layout.  I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope that I will keep going on my PL posts during the rest of the month. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Introducing the 5000 Poppies project (to my readers)

On Sunday and Monday evenings this week, I crocheted seven poppies.  (Here are two of them.)

Crocheting poppies is something I've been planning to do for quite some time, but it was Sunday when I finally started working on it.

The 5000 Poppies project was started by Lynne Berry, and has already exceeded its original goal.  The idea is that on ANZAC Day 2015, the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, Federation Square in Melbourne will be covered in knitted and crocheted (and felted, and quilted) poppies. They've already surpassed their initial goal of 5000 by quite a bit (last count I heard was 22k), and we have 300 sitting at my workplace that they don't even know about yet.

My workplace is coordinating a "field of poppies" for Remembrance Day this year, after which we'll take all the poppies down to Melbourne for the big day next April. I'm going to ramp up the promotion beginning next week on the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the War, and we'll offer casual Friday Poppy Making sessions at the library from then on, especially if I can get some money from the programming budget to contribute some wool.

As for me.  It's week 29 this week, and Remembrance Day is in week 46.  That's 17 weeks, and my goal in that time is 100 poppies.  I'd love to go over that goal if I could, but at 100 I will celebrate wildly :-)

Back when I spent a lot of time on LiveJournal, people had these cute little progress bars with flowers and whatnot.  Sadly, no amount of Googling seems to find them, so for now, have this:

Poppy Progress to date
7 / 100 (7.00%) 

If you're interested in the 5000 Poppies project, feel free to ask me any questions, or check out their web page.  It includes patterns for knitted and crocheted poppies, although there are lots of other patterns around as well.  I've used at least three different patterns to date, and I'm hoping to try out a few more: I've been collecting a variety of patterns on my  Pinterest board: knitting, crochet, felting, origami, fabric flowers, and more.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Week 29 at Chez Stutters

It's been a rough re-entry to work this past week. The GF was still on holidays and so got to stay at home with the boys and I was very jealous. It was wonderful, though, to come home each night to a warm house, a GF, and the cats.

We had a good friend from Sydney come to visit us - I think I only got one single photo of her in the whole week, which will make PL-ing her stay a little difficult! She arrived in Tuesday to do a course at the local Uni on Wednesday/Thursday. On Friday she and GF did some driving around the region to pick up gourmet goodies for the Housewarming party on Saturday.

Saturday we got to Celladoor, our favourite local eatery, for brunch, then home to get ready for the party.  Although most of the invited guests weren't actually able to get there, the select company that did make it enjoyed delicious mulled wine made by yours truly (seriously - more winter parties with mulled wine are needed!  Even better than mulled wine, two of our awesome friends brought us a snowman!  I'm not kidding: here's the photographic proof...
L: the snowman on arrival,  R: the snowman at about 11am the next day

Sunday was a very lazy day, seeing Jen off on the road back to Sydney, spoiling the kitties, and getting the GF reconciled to the idea of going back to work on Monday morning. 

How *I* Project Life - weekly layouts, part 1

The most important thing to know about PL is to never let anyone tell you how it "should" be done.  PL in a way that suits *you*, not the way this blog or that blog says is their way. The majority of PLers have children.  That doesn't mean that you can't do PL if you don't have kids.  Believe me, I'm saying this as a lesbian who has no kids at all, but a girlfriend and two cats.  It may be difficult to include a camera-shy girlfriend, and the cats are currently taking over my layouts, but that doesn't make me any less a PLer than any Mormon (and a lot of PLers are Mormon) WAHM.  Nor does it make me any more a PLer than the Mormon WAHM who lives in Utah, or the single girl with dog who PLs a fabulously awesome seeming life.

People PL by theme (which I'm doing in my pre-2014 album and some mini-albums), by month, by kid, and by week.

Personally, I'm loving weekly layouts, and I've been doing them since November 2013.  I also have themed and event layouts and albums, and I'll share some of them with you later on, but this post is about how I go about a weekly layout.

Let's take Week ? As an example. Funnily enough, it's the week I'm working on at the moment. 

Generally, I begin by gathering together my photos. I have my phone and iPad set to send all photos to DropBox, and from there Picasa picks them up on my computer. I organise them by week (and sometimes also by theme, such a photos I've taken for use on this blog, but not for PL), and then decide on the basis of the photos what sort of layout I'll use for the week, including any inserts. 

For Week 26 I had lots of photos of the Yellow Submarine, a fair few of the brand new kitties, and also my friend Jo's Ember Card, announcing her ordination to the priesthood on the Saturday afternoon. 

I mostly end up using Design A for my layouts, which is based on landscape photos. It doesn't always work, but I'm now in the habit of mostly taking landscape photos so that they work easily. I have also found that I can successfully use the "A Beautiful Mess" app to collage portrait photos into a 6x4 landscape that can either go directly into a 6x4 pocket or be cut down to go into the 3x4 portrait pockets. 

Next I choose which core kit to use. In general, I choose a single core kit per weekly layout.  For the week of the Yellow Submarine, it had to be Honey, and lots of yellow. (The one exception this is the weekly review card at the bottom right, which comes from Azure. I'd already written this one out before I realised how much more yellow Honey was than Azure. As a kit, I mean.)

The portrait 3x4 card at the far right is a plain grid card that I've done some surface crochet on using the same yarn I used for one of my pieces for the Sub. It doesn't quite coordinate, but it was determined to include it. 

The double photos are from A Beautiful Mess, as aforementioned.

I'll be back in a few days with part 2, on embellishment and journalling.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Belated Catterday

The cat from Greece joined the police; the cat from France loved to sing and dance, but MY cat likes to hide in boxes. 
    ~ Lynley Dodd, in My Cat likes to hide in boxes

That was a favourite book of my childhood, and now I have cats who love to hide (and play) in boxes. 

They dealt fairly well with having a visitor staying for the week, and during our housewarming party, not only did Bion stay put in the main room, but Bardy even came out to say hello, which I wasn't entirely expecting. 

They love boxes, hate closed doors, and Bion seems to have decided that Shell's spot on the sofa is actually his. They've both worked out how to get at the cat toys, and tomorrow - the first day since we brought them home when we'll both be at work all day - could be very interesting. 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

It's Saturday...

And around here, we've been sleeping in.

The Chez Stutters housewarming extravaganza is tonight (although I don't know that it will be all that spectacular, given how few of the invitees will be able to come) but this does mean that we need to get up and at it fairly soon now.

We have a leaking tap to fix, a menu to plan and execute, and I have a craft room I'd like to get to the point that people can come through the door (and that is cat safe so that said door can be left open).

And of course, it being Saturday, there needs to be a Catterday report at some point. Which is mostly a case of finding the best pictures.

But it's just so much nicer to stay in a cozy warm bed!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Currently Creative/Finished object: the Elphieblanket

 It’s that time of week again!

Last night I finished the Elphieblanket, and I’m really pleased with it.
It still needs to be blocked, but that won’t change the look of it all that much, other than the edging. This is the quickest baby blanket I’ve ever made, but also the smallest. The pattern turns out beautifully, and I think this will be something of a go-to pattern for babies I get around to crocheting for before they arrive.

What I’ve learned

I’ve gotten much better at the straight edge thing, as I expected after my discoveries with the Cat Mat. However, I should have read the pattern more closely in the first few rounds of the border: I made a couple of mistakes at the corners that had implications on the outer rounds, although they’re not really obvious to the untrained eye.


It’s been a rough re-entry at work this week, but one of the things that has done is motivate me to refocus on my writing (fiction, rather than blog posts). I need to take a good look at my routines and activities in order to find a way of spending some time every single day on either writing or, in the longer term promoting my writing. Writing is one of the ways I’ve been creative for the majority of my life, and it’s something I want to get back to properly.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Week 27 at Chez Stutters

This last week both of us have been on holidays: I got in early at work and demanded annual leave during school holidays, and I got it. We'd initially been planning to go to Canberra for a few days (in July, I know!) but the costs associated with the dishwasher and the heater put paid to that idea.  Instead we essentially had a staycation.

It also meant that we could move up getting our cats by a week, and I am so glad we did that. As you may have noticed from photos and Facebook comments and Catterday posts, we love and adore our new kitties: Bishop Bion and Bard. A great deal of time this week has been devoted to getting to know them and spoiling them rotten. 

Elseweek, we went to two movies (How to Train Your Dragon 2 on Tuesday, and Jersey Boys on Friday), introduced various people to the cats, had one teenage boy over to play Xbox to get him out of his mother's hair, and went to Wangaratta to buy an exercise bike that we haven't yet assembled. That may be tonight's job. 

I did lots of crochet (finished another UFO) and Project Life, and then there was the Weekend. 

On Saturday, we took a group of 45 school kids to Melbourne for OzComicCon. Country school kids. Some of whom had never been to anything even remotely similar, and certainly not something with the volume of crowds of an OzComicCon that included a Dr Who companion (Arthur Darville), an X-Man (Shawn Ashmore), MacGyver, Freddy Kruger, and a Veronica Mars star (Jason Dohring) among the guests. Some of them were a little overwhelmed. Some of them coped fine, and we had to break up sword fights on the bus on the way home. I got to chat to Aaron Ashmore from Warehouse 13 and get Darville's autograph, and took advantage of Madman's lower Con prices to buy up three more volumes of Ooku, a Tiptree-winning Manga that I bought the first four volumes of at Supanova back in April. 

On Sunday, thanks to the good offices of Jaime Schmidt, I had been informed that the Craft Alive fair was on in Wodonga, and I managed to convince M to go with me.  I honestly didn't buy that much: just three paper pads, 14 rolls of washi tape, some brads, and two ink pads.

Finally, the Tour began on Saturday evening, and even without Cadel Evans riding, and with Simon Gerrans nasty crash on the first stage, I'm really enjoying it.  I've watched a good stretch of both stages so far, although with going back to work today, who knows how I'll go hereafter.  I must remember to put in for the day after the final stage off work, however.

And that's been our (very full, apparently) week.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

[Finished object]: Headbands Three

I've finished three headbands in the last week, all of them from the same initial pattern, but with my own adjustments: two with bows and one without.

The first was my purple headband, one of the UFOs that I wanted to get finished listed in this post. It took maybe an hour and a half total to finish up.

Then there was the rainbow headband, made from the leftover Moda Vera Marvel printed wool (color way: parrot) that I used for the Eddieblanket and the cat mat. This is the one I did without a bow.

Finally, while I was working on the purple headband, our young friend Ella came to meet Bishop and Bard, and asked for a headband in TARDIS blue. I finished that within a day.

Like I said in my Currently Creative post, these headbands almost take more time to blog and post on Ravelry than they do to make.  Depending on the decisions made about a craft stall for the church fete this year, I may find myself making more of these as we get closer to November.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Catterday report - 5 July

In order to keep the cat blogging to a minimum: and because, God forgive me, I actually find "Catterday" kind of cute - welcome to Chez Stutters' Catterday post: a weekly blether about what the boys have been doing this week.

We've had the boys for a week, now. We've learned that Bion is brave and Bard is clever, and that neither of them like closed doors. Bard has a very strange thing for ankles, and Bion loves high places. Any movement in the kitchen is interpreted as "feeding time for kitties". They adore their pink fluffy boa that came from their wonderful foster-mummies.


They both sleep on our bed already, taking up lots of space, as any good cat knows he should. 

They are absolutely adorable and we love them sooooo much.